By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
Teams coming off championship seasons are usually filled with optimism for the next year.
Everett Merchants coach Harold Pyatte indeed has optimism, but also some uncertainty.
The Merchants, a semipro team, won the Pacific International League title a year ago with a 28-8 record. But with just four players from that team returning this season, Pyatte said, “we’re pretty much starting over with this group.”
That said, the Merchants already have won five of their first six games in 2014, giving them reason for encouragement as they head into tonight’s annual Everett Cup game against the Everett AquaSox.
The first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Though the Merchants are starting almost from scratch in 2014, “we’ve really got a good group of kids,” Pyatte said. “They really want to play. And they listen, which is huge.”
Of the four returning players from a year ago, two were among the team’s top hitters. They are right fielder Ty Holm, who batted .352 with two home runs and 18 RBI, and center fielder Zack Garrett, who hit .345 with 13 RBI. Garrett is also a top pitcher, coming off a season in which he made six starts and had five compete games with a 1.76 earned-run average.
In addition, the Merchants have a few players who did not play a year ago, but were on the roster in 2012. Among them is outfielder Ryan Sells, who just finished his senior season at Lewis-Clark State College where he batted .366 in 56 games with 11 home runs and 55 RBI.
Through six games, Pyatte has concluded a few things about his ballclub.
“We play good defense,” he said, “and (offensively) we put the ball in play. If anything’s suspect, it’ll be how well our pitchers do. We’ll just have to see how that goes.
“But these kids are young and they’re hungry, and they can’t wait (to play the AquaSox tonight). This game is always one of the highlights of the summer.”
As for Pyatte, he is in his 43rd season with the Merchants. Retirement is coming, he knows, but for now “I’m still enjoying what I’m doing,” he said.